Military Prisons in America
A military prison is a correctional facility with the purpose of detaining or holding members of the Armed Forces who have broken the law, people determined to threaten the security of the United States, and prisoners of war (POWs).
There are two types of prisons operated by the military. Disciplinary prisons hold members of the military who have been found guilty of committing a crime. Like civilian prisoners, military prisoners are sentenced to serve a number of years in detention depending on the severity of their crimes.
Detention facilities, on the other hand, hold POWs and those who threaten the security of the nation until it’s determined that they can be released.
What Military Prisons are in the United States?
There are different military prisons located across the United States. All the prisons listed below house men and women from all branches of the military.
United States Disciplinary Barracks
Formerly known as the United States Military Prison, the United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) is in Leavenworth, Kansas. This facility started operating in May 1875 and is one of the most well-known military prisons in the United States. It’s so well known, in fact, that’s it’s often simply referred to as Leavenworth.
This facility can hold more than 500 servicemembers. Only those who have committed the most severe crimes such as murder, sexual assault, and/or actions against national security, will be sentenced to Leavenworth.
The mission of the USDB is to discipline and rehabilitate prisoners so they can rejoin the military upon release or find meaningful employment as a civilian. Inmates can take classes in graphic design, printing, welding, carpentry, barbering, and more. They can also take college level courses that count toward a degree.
Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility
This prison is also located in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas next to the USDB. Occupying 40 acres of land, it began operating on October 1, 2010. There are five structures on the land, with one facility dedicated to holding inmates who have been ordered to serve three to five years of prison time.
The Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility (JRCF) has six living quarters able to hold a total of 464 inmates. There’s also a common area with televisions, seating, and payphones. Inmates also have access to a chapel, a gym, and outdoor recreational facilities such as basketball courts, running track, and a baseball diamond. The facility also has a gym, a chapel, a recreational field consisting of a running track, basketball and handball courts, and a softball field.
Supporting the mental health of the inmates of the Midwest JRCF is a top priority of officials at the facility. Inmates have access to psychiatrists, psychologists, and addiction specialists.
Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility
Located in Washington state, the Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility (JRCF) is a high-security facility that holds convicts whose sentences exceed one year.
It started operations in June of 1984 and holds a maximum of 212 inmates.
Like the Midwest JRCF, inmates have access to a common area with televisions and seating. They also have time to exercise either indoors or outside.
However, there are more restrictions placed on the inmates of the Northwest JRCF because it is a high-security prison. For example, their recreational time is more closely monitored, they spend more time in their cells, and they are required to be engaged in an occupation, training, or classes at least three hours per day.
The Naval Consolidated Brig
Operated by the Navy, the Naval Consolidated Brig has three branches:
- The Charleston branch in South Carolina holds a maximum of 400 prisoners serving shorter sentences, no more than 365 days.
- The Miramar branch located in San Diego, California has the capacity to hold 600 inmates for up to 10 years.
- The Chesapeake branch in Virginia is the most modern facility in the Brig, having opened in 2011. It can hold a maximum of 400 inmates from 10 years to life.
Do Specific Branches Have Their Own Prisons?
In addition to the prison facilities already described, each branch of the military has its own facilities for holding inmates. As you’ll see, some of these facilities are in foreign countries.
United States Army
- Army Regional Confinement Facility, Fort Carson, Colorado
- Army Regional Confinement Facility, Mannheim, Germany
- Army Regional Confinement Facility, Camp Humphreys, USFK
United States Marine Corps
- Marine Corps Brig, Camp Pendleton, California
- Marine Corps Brig, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan
- Marin Corps Brig, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
United States Navy
- Naval Brig/Consolidated Confinement Unit (CCU), Jacksonville, Florida
- Naval Brig/CCU Norfolk, Virginia
- Naval Brig U.S. Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan
- Naval Brig Rota, Spain
- Navy Brig, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
- Navy Brig, Puget Sound Shipyard, Washington
United States Air Force
Airmen serve time at one of the correction facilities made for all members of the military.
However, the Air Force has a specific mission when it comes to corrections. The Air Force Corrections Division transfers prisoners and inmates from overseas prisons to Regional Correctional Facilities (RCFs) operated by the Department of Defense or one of the branches of the military.
Servicemembers Commit Crimes Too
Servicemembers are just as susceptible to committing crimes as civilians. It’s important that they be punished of course. However, they must also be given a chance to rehabilitate themselves.
Military prisons provide the structure, resources, and discipline military inmates need to return to service or successfully transition to civilian life.
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